1) What has brought you to the role you’re in now?
Working in Food and Beverage until I was 20, I decided to change it up and take a receptionist position, and it was here that I worked with an amazing and inspiring Operations Manager. I loved the way that they used to juggle all elements of hotel life and the control that they displayed in moments of crisis; their presence on the floor day in day out; their ability to solve situations and lead the atmosphere effortlessly for both the guests and the team around them. I thought “I want to be able to do that!”
So, I looked for jobs that would give me the skills with companies that would help me grow into that role. After doing pretty much every HOD role for the next 7 years, I took my first Operations Manager’s job and it was absolutely my favourite role in my career! By then, however, I had the progression bug so evidently I pushed on for GM which came 7 years later. Don’t worry – I love this role too!
2) What obstacles have you had to overcome along the way?
Family is really important to me, so when looking for roles, I am pretty clear that I don’t want to be in property any further than an hour away from home. Home is my recharge button. Throughout my earlier career, fantastic positions came up that I turned down because of the distance and it was a huge risk. I was also often told many times that I would not be a GM unless I did a different brand, a 3rd, 4th,5th Operations Job, which I also said no to; another risk. I was clear when having reviews and career conversations that I had ambition, but I still worried that I might be known as the girl who turned opportunities down. However, sometimes you have to dig deep and stick to what you fundamentally believe and want.
After applying the first time for GM at Holiday Inn Warrington and not getting the position, I was wounded but took the feedback and worked harder than ever to fill the skills-gaps and maturity I lacked so that when the position was available a year later, I was ready and not willing to back down! That promotion was the toughest shift of my career by far, emotionally, and I am thankful every day that I was not successful the first time because I definitely needed more time!
3) What’s kicks you back up when you face the tough times?
If I am having a bad day, or feeling defeated, I spend some time with the guests and my team. Nothing helps me refocus more than chatting with the guests about their day, life and what they are passionate about and then the pure joy of service with the team. There is no better place to be than on a busy shift with them, it doesn’t matter what role you do, we all love looking after people and that feeling of being a real team, a squad that can deal with anything that is thrown at you…
“… that is why I love hospitality.”
4) Who’s your biggest icon and why?
My step children’s mum, Ruth. She is fearlessly Scottish and a force to be reckoned with! She is extremely clever, kind and is an absolute superhero mum to our children. Every day with 4 children is tough, exhausting and made to look effortless, nothing is ever forgotten, and how she manages to get everyone coordinated and on time will forever escape me, but she always puts the kids first no matter how hard a day gets. She has given me the best gift on the planet in allowing me to be the ‘othermother’ to Fergus, Rory, Fraser and Isla, for which I will forever be grateful for.
5) What bit of advice would you give to your teenage self?
You will never be freer or more beautiful than you are today, so stop worrying about whether you are a size 10 or 16. Whatever you ‘think’ your imperfections are, whenever you worry if you’re saying the right thing to the right person or what someone thinks of you just remember…
…make your own crowd and your own rules. Stuff everyone else.
Interested in working in a company with such incredible, inspiring women? Get in touch with Charley on firstname.lastname@example.org